An award-winning translator describes and defends his profession.

Bellos (French and Comparative Literature/Princeton Univ.; Romain Gary: A Tall Story, 2010, etc.) has a broad definition of translation: in general, the ability of the human mind to convert stimuli into meaning. He begins by imagining a world without translation—recognizing the unpleasant possibility of such a situation—and then identifies and analyzes key issues of his discipline. He dispenses with some common misconceptions about translation (“Translations are substitutes for original texts. You use them in the place of a work written in a language you cannot read with ease”) and examines some of the difficulties and oddities of the enterprise. For example, how to translate into French those portions of War and Peace that are already in French? Bellos also discusses dictionaries (observing that, in one sense, a language becomes a language when it has a dictionary) and dismisses what he calls the myth of literal translation (word-for-word substitution). He reminds us of the canard about Eskimos having scores of words for “snow” and deals with issues like the translation of sacred texts, the difficulty of simultaneous oral translation and translation problems in the fields of law and journalism. There are some stunning moments along the way, as when he offers a dozen variations of a translation of a Chinese shunkouliu (“oral grapevines”). There are moments of humor, too (oh, the problems translating naughty jokes!). Bellos realizes that in literary translation, the only way to experience the author’s original effect is to read the text in the original language. His passion sometimes propels him into hyperbole, but never for long. Erudite and occasionally dense, but ultimately illuminating, even transformative.


Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-86547-857-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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